Parade of Homes evolved from modest beginnings to invaluable event for new home buyers

By Todd Lewys

Every spring and fall, the Manitoba Home Builders Association’s (MHBA) Parade of Homes dominates the home buying landscape inside and outside the city for three weeks.

And while the event – the 2018 edition started March 3 and will run to March 25 – is now a rite of spring and fall, it wasn’t always the juggernaut it is today, says Jason Jaquet of Randall Homes.

“Four men – Brian Hastings, Guy Hobman, Alan Hockman and my father, Randy – were the initiators of the Parade,” says Jaquet. “They were the ones who had the vision for the event all those years ago.”

Back then – a couple of decades ago or so – the city’s home builders were looking to generate excitement about new homes.

Hobman – the former founder of Greentree Homes and two-time MHBA president who passed away in February 2017 – came back from Minnesota with an idea, recalls Jaquet.

“He brought information back from there to the Winnipeg market about a showcase of homes,” he says. “The other three men jumped on board, and the Parade of Homes was born.”

As is the case with most new events, the Parade’s beginnings were modest.

“I think they had maybe 50 or 60 homes in the first Parade,” says Jaquet. “There was an initial struggle to get the concept off the ground, but it just grew steadily year after year.”

Fast forward to 2018, and there are no fewer than 138 entries by 38 builders in the 2018 Spring Parade of Homes.

“I believe it’s the largest, most successful Parade of Homes in Canada,” says Spencer Curtis, former MHBA chair. “Over the years, the Parade has become a wonderful showcase for what all the different builders have to offer.”

He adds that the Parade has evolved into a genuine buying tool for prospective new home buyers.

“Home buyers can not only come out and get a first-hand look at home styles and the different technologies used in homes, but they can also go through all kinds of different housing options, from attached homes to townhomes to condos, single family homes and luxury homes,” says Curtis. “There’s now something to fit everyone’s style, and budget.”

Jaquet concurs.

“There truly is something for everyone, from back lane homes, to side-by-sides, to condos – there are so many different categories of homes today, compared to 10, even five years ago.”

That variety is the result of builders responding to the needs of the buying public, he adds.

“Builders evolved their product lines due to the demographics of the population. We’ve seen the effect that things like rising interest rates and the government-imposed Stress Test have had, so we want to provide people with more options to fit their budget. There’s now a product out there that will truly suit everyone’s budget, plus there are more areas to move in to, as well.”

Although homes are judged and receive awards after each Parade, the builders aren’t in the Parade to put more trophies in their trophy cases, says Jaquet.

“We don’t build homes to win awards, we build them to buy for their family, so they can make it their castle. Our goal is to provide every buyer with a great place to call home.”

That was essentially the goal of the Parade’s four founders all those years ago: to help home buyers find the home that was right for them.

“The Parade’s founders (Hastings, Hobman, Hockman and Jaquet) laid the path for today’s builders,” says Jaquet. “Today, the MHBA does a great job of putting on the Parade, and the builders are proud to take part in it to showcase our homes to home buyers. Now, in the spring and fall, everyone knows the Parade is coming, and all kinds of people come out to view the homes. We can all thank the Parade’s four founders for the great event it’s evolved into.”

There’s still time to get out to the 2018 Spring Parade, as it runs until March 25!